By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Last week, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) said that any attempt to repeal Common Core would become a dead letter in the Senate:
“I do not intend to address controversial legislation regarding these standards next session….The only way I see this issue coming before the Senate is if the Governor were to call a special session to address it,” Marsh said in a written statement.
Marsh may not be willing to tackle the issue of Common Core, but many Conservative are not going to sit by quietly as he supports what they see as one more intrusive Federal mandate.
“There is a huge groundswell of opposition to Common Core from parents, grandparents and even teachers,” said Becky Gerritson, President of the Wetumpka Tea Party.
Politicos around the state expressed bewilderment when Marsh let the repeal of Common Core die in the Senate in 2013.
Gerritson says that conservatives like the Tea Party are more determined to be heard in the 2014 session. “If our elected officials truly represent the people, then they will have no alternative than to support or at least bring up bills to repeal Common Core,” she said.
That Marsh would support the Obama Administration when it comes to the education of the State’s children, has left political consultants wondering if Marsh has become tone deaf, or worse, disloyal to party principles.
“Marsh is easily the wealthiest member of the Senate….He may be too busy dining on filet mignon to listen to the common sense of those who live on beans and taters,” said one Republican political consultant.
Freedom Works, a right-wing Conservative foundation says of Common Core:
“The ultimate goal of Common Core is to have every school district follow the same National standards. This is a failed educational approach that will undermine educational quality and choice. States and local communities better know how to design standards based on their students’ and parents’ needs, than Washington bureaucrats.”
This is firmly believed by many rank and file Republicans in Alabama and around the country.
According to the government website, “The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”
Geritson and other TEA party members have recently come under fire from some factions of the Republican party, because they dare speak their minds without regard to a particular party line. They have been met with great resistance because of the campaign to stop Common Core from being implemented in the State’s public schools. But the rejection of Common Core is supported by Bill Armistead, Chairman of the State Republican Party, as well as the National Party platform.
However, Common Core has been pushed with vigor by the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and the so-called “pro-business” Republicans, who have become the de-facto policy wing of the GOP House Caucus.
Some members of the ALGOP have become so angry over what they perceive as a Federal takeover of our schools that Mary Scott Hunter, a member of the Alabama Department of Education Executive Board, was censured for “dereliction of duty” because of her support of Common Core standards. Republican Senator Bill Holzclaw barely escaped censure from his own county party over his refusal to block Common Core.
Marsh, who stated last session, “We have a Supermajority, and can pass anything we want” has decided to stand against those who want to push back against the Obama Administration’s intrusion into Alabama schools, in favor of the agenda set by the BCA (Business Council of Alabama).
Many in the new crop of Republicans running in 2014 are speaking out loudly against Common Core Standards.
Recently, Amie Beth Shaver, who is running to replace Representative Mary Sue McClurkin, told the Rainy Day Patriots that she opposes Common Core and that is “just the tip of the iceberg” of what the Federal government wants to do with our schools.
Dr. Stan Cooke, a Republican seeking to replace Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, said, “We must determine to be eternally vigilant to fight against the unconstitutional U.S. Department of Education, to defeat policies such as Common Core, so that our local educators can educate our children based on our community standards.”
Republican Jamey Clements, a candidate for House District 62, recently expressed opposition to Common Core, as did Matt Fridy, who is also running for the District 73 House seat.
With so many Republicans opposing Common Core, why is Marsh so dead-set against the measure?
“Marsh is first and foremost a businessman. He is going to take the side of business,” said the GOP political consultant. “Marsh is in lock-step with Billy Canary and the BCA.”
During last year’s battle over Common Core, BCA head Billy Canary said, “These standards are vital in preparing students to compete in the 21st century global workforce, which requires highly skilled workers. Adoption of SB403 and HB565 would be a giant step backward, based on a false premise that Alabama and local school systems would lose control over their curriculum. While some will continue a campaign of fear on this issue, we will continue to stand united in the business, education and military communities in offering our children the hope of a bright future, regardless of the zip code they live in.”
“In privacy of their little club they laugh at these folks who want to repeal Common Core,” said the consultant. “But seldom do they challenge them openly because they need their votes. This is a bad move for Marsh politically, but it shows whose camp he is in.”
“This is an election year. And we know they will do everything they can to avoid the issue…But, we will hold their feet to the fire.”